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Gretzky happy these days just being an NHL fan

by Dan Rosen /

LAS VEGAS -- Wayne Gretzky is flattered and humbled anytime his name comes up in conversations for executive jobs around the National Hockey League, but he hasn't had substantive conversations with any franchise about future employment, and he isn't planning to any time soon.

"I consider it an honor that people are even thinking about my name, thinking about me," Gretzky told Monday at the Bellagio, where he is hosting the 11th annual Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp. "I talk to a lot of people in hockey who are good friends of mine and we talk a lot about hockey, but the reality is I have never talked about any particulars with anybody.

"At this point in time I really don't have a desire to be in that pressure-cooker right now. It's just not in the cards for me right now."


E.J. Hradek interviews 'The Great One'
Wayne Gretzky joined NHL Live in Las Vegas -- the site of the 11th annual Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp -- for a one-on-one interview covering several different topis. WATCH NOW ›

Gretzky's name returned to the news last week when rumors surfaced that he was in touch with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment about becoming the president of the Maple Leafs.

Gretzky quickly squashed those rumors, telling Hockey Night in Canada Radio that he has had no discussions about future employment with anybody at MLSE.

He added that the only team he has had conversations with is the Los Angeles Kings, but Gretzky said Monday it never has been a two-way discussion with his former team.

"[Kings general manager] Dean Lombardi and I are good friends and for the last four years periodically he'll say, 'Why don't we sit down and talk about what you could do for us,'" Gretzky said. "I say, 'Dean, that is very kind of you and I'm a phone call away if you ever want to chat about the game.'

"But listen, just that he wants to sit down and chat with me is always nice to hear. He's a good man and I have always enjoyed my time with Dean. I'm very happy with what he accomplished in L.A., winning the Stanley Cup finally."

Gretzky, though, does have a desire to get back into the NHL at some point; he's just not sure when or in what capacity.

He hasn't been in the NHL since Sept. 24, 2009, when he resigned as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes after three seasons.

"I don't know what I want to do," Gretzky said. "I don't really overly think about it. My life is pretty busy right now in the sense that I'm busy but I'm home a lot, which is sort of new.

"When you're a professional hockey player, a professional athlete, your life is that. To explain that to people, it's hard, because you almost have to be very selfish to be successful as a professional athlete. But with that selfishness you have to have the right core of people around you, whether it be your wife and kids, or if you're single, your mom and dad. They have to understand that at that point in time that's what your concentration is about, the sport itself. Now that I don't have that, obviously more time is spent just being around my group, my family."

It's being around his family now that gives Gretzky peace away from the game.

"One of the things I'm most proud of is that as a family we're able to spend June, July and August together on a lake house. It's something my wife and I always dreamed about," Gretzky said. "Fortunately, we found a tremendous place in Idaho and we love it. One of the reasons I don't think about going back to work now is I don't want to give up my June, July and August. From my point of view right now, selfishly, I don't want to give up that time, so that's how I keep coming back to the time is not right for me to be in the game. It's as simple as that."

However, Gretzky admits it's hard to fill the void of competition in his life.

"I miss winning," Gretzky said. "What I'm doing now, whether it be my wine company or my restaurant, you plug along every day and you try to create ideas to better your brand or your company. But ultimately, there are no peaks and valleys. Being a professional athlete, it's all about peaks and valleys. If you win it's everything, and if you lose it's gut-wrenching. You're paid to play, but you're paid to win."

For now, he'll settle for the enjoyment he gets from watching other people win.

"Everything happens for a reason, and right now it's not for me to be in the game," Gretzky said. "But I am in the game in that I am a fan of the game. It's enjoyable to watch, and we're all thrilled that hockey is back and they're playing now."


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